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Social housing reforms sent to select committee

Social housing reforms sent to select committee

A bill to create the right environment to support the growth of the social housing sector and ensure housing assistance is focused on those with the highest need passed its first reading in Parliament today.

“The Social Housing Reform (Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters Amendment) Bill facilitates the development of a more diverse range of community providers in the social housing sector. It does this by providing them with access to the income-related rent subsidy currently only available to Housing New Zealand,” Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said.

“The Government recognises that community housing providers such as churches, NGOs, disability providers and local trusts are very good at providing a comprehensive wrap-around service for their clients.”

Budget 2013 provides $27 million over four years to support the extension of income-related rents.

“The housing needs assessment will also be made independent of housing providers to enable a more holistic view to be taken of people’s needs alongside other social and income support.

“This will enable a level playing field between providers, with the housing needs assessment moved from Housing New Zealand to the Ministry of Social Development.”

The bill also allows for reviewable tenancies to be extended to all Housing New Zealand tenants. They will also be progressively rolled out to all community social housing tenants who receive an income-related rent over time.

“Reviewable tenancies will be undertaken with common sense and care. Tenants’ will be given support to move into alternative housing where available and they are in a position to take that step to independence.

“We have more than 4000 state house tenants paying market rents, some of whom are on high incomes. This policy is about freeing up those homes for more needy families. Reviewable tenancies is budgeted to result in 1000 tenants in 2015/16 and 2000 tenants in 2016/17 being supported into housing independence.

“Reviewable tenancies are expected to cost the Government $46.8 million over two years, as state houses freed up will be provided to higher needs tenants who are eligible for more Government financial support.”

Dr Smith said the changes build on the Government’s $139 million investment through the Social Housing Fund and sit alongside Housing New Zealand’s record $2.9 billion investment over three years on new builds, housing extensions, insulation, earthquake repairs, and maintenance.

The bill passed its first reading 63 votes to 56 with the support of the Maori Party, United Future and Act. It has been sent to the Social Services Select Committee and will report back to Parliament by 1 October 2013.

ends

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